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Small modular reactor core design for civil marine propulsion using micro-heterogeneous duplex fuel. Part I: Assembly-level analysis
Univ Cambridge, Dept Engn, Cambridge, England; Rhode Isl Nucl Sci Ctr, Narragansett, RI USA; French Alternat Energies & Atom Energy Commiss, St Paul Les Durance, France.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Physics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Applied Nuclear Physics. French Alternat Energies & Atom Energy Commiss, St Paul Les Durance, France.
Rhode Isl Nucl Sci Ctr, Narragansett, RI USA; Missouri S&T, Dept Nucl Engn, Rolla, MO USA.
Missouri S&T, Dept Nucl Engn, Rolla, MO USA.
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2019 (English)In: Nuclear Engineering and Design, ISSN 0029-5493, E-ISSN 1872-759X, Vol. 346, p. 157-175Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In an effort to de-carbonise commercial freight shipping, there is growing interest in the possibility of using nuclear propulsion systems. In this reactor physics study, we seek to design a soluble-boron-free (SBF) and low-enriched uranium (LEU) (<20% U-235 enrichment) civil nuclear marine propulsion small modular reactor (SMR) core that provides at least 15 effective full-power-years (EFPY) life at 333 MWth using 18% U-235 enriched micro-heterogeneous ThO2-UO2 duplex fuel and 15% U-235 enriched homogeneously mixed all-UO2 fuel. We use WIMS to develop subassembly designs and PANTHER to examine whole-core arrangements.

The assembly-level behaviours of candidate burnable poison (BP) materials and control rods are investigated. We examine gadolinia (Gd2O3), erbia (Er2O3) and ZrB2 integral fuel burnable absorber (IFBA) as BPs. We arrive at a design with the candidate fuels loaded into 13 x 13 assemblies using IFBA pins for reactivity control. Taking advantage of self-shielding effects, this design maintains low and stable assembly reactivity with relatively little burnup penalty. Thorium-based duplex fuel offers better performance than all-UO2 fuel with all BP options considered. Duplex fuel has similar to 20% lower reactivity swing and, in consequence, lower initial reactivity than all-UO2 fuel. The lower initial reactivity and smaller reactivity swing make the task of reactivity control through BP design easier in the thorium-rich duplex core. For control rod design, we examine boron carbide (B4C), hafnium, and Ag-In-Cd alloy. All the candidate materials exhibit greater rod worth for the duplex design. For both fuels, B4C has the highest rod worth. In particular, one of the major objectives of this study is to offer/explore a thorium-based candidate alternative fuel platform for the proposed marine core. It is proven by literature reviews that the ability of the duplex fuel was never explored in the context of a single-batch, LEU, SBF, long-life SMR core. In this regard, the motivation of this paper is to observe the neutronic performance of the proposed duplex fuel with respect to the UO2 fuel and 'open the option' of designing the functional cores with both the duplex and UO2 fuel cores.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 346, p. 157-175
Keywords [en]
Civil marine propulsion, Small modular reactor (SMR), Soluble-boron-free (SBF) operation, Long-life core, Micro-heterogeneous thorium-based duplex fuel, All-UO2 fuel; Burnable poison (BP); Reactivity swing; Initial reactivity suppression, Control rod worth
National Category
Engineering and Technology Subatomic Physics
Research subject
Nuclear Physics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-379977DOI: 10.1016/j.nucengdes.2019.03.005ISI: 000462611100015OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-379977DiVA, id: diva2:1298137
Available from: 2019-03-21 Created: 2019-03-21 Last updated: 2019-04-17Bibliographically approved

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